A woman has written a moving open letter to the organisers of Glastonbury after they helped her have an “amazing” time at the festival, despite suffering a horrendous ordeal just a few months before.
“I was lucky enough to get tickets to Glastonbury for the first year ever, with a group of friends who were equally as excited as I was,” Whitehurst wrote in a blog post. “June 2017 could not come soon enough.”
However, just a few months before she was due to pitch up at the festival, Whitehurst was sexually assaulted by two of the male “friends” she was supposed to be going with.
As she writes in the blog post, “I had mistakenly put my drunken trust in these guys at an after-party. My memories of the night were hazy; the drunken texts with other friends to come and save me, coupled with the injuries I sustained were not.”
Terrified and injured, Whitehurst took herself to a crisis centre the next day, where she “lay sobbing on the table being photographed and probed by four nurses”.
However, the ordeal wasn’t over, and she soon found herself as the recipient of an increasingly threatening barrage of calls and texts telling her not to report the assault so she wouldn’t “ruin Glastonbury for us all”.
“I was receiving 15 voicemails a day with threats from these friends, and with every threat received, another inch of my fight would disappear,” she wrote.
“Eventually, the harassment got worse. I couldn’t turn my phone on without getting more. I blocked the numbers, the contacts on Facebook, the accounts on Instagram, but they’d find more ways to get to me. This is the point I went to the police.”
Desperate and afraid, Whitehurst adds that “still couldn’t feel relieved” following her interview with the police and that she was “barely surviving on two months worth of SSP [Statutory Sick Pay]. Add to that, she was “receiving threats not to attend the festival that I had been looking forward to for months”.
On the advice of the police, she finally decided to contact the organisers of Glastonbury, filling in a 500-word form on the website that she assumed would get overlooked.
Brilliantly, however, it was not.
Whitehurst wrote that she “instantly” received a call from an “amazing human being” called Marianna who put her in touch with the festival’s Events Operations Lead.
And from that point, the organisers did everything they could to ensure she safely attended the festival and had as good a time as possible.
First, they sent her a car park pass so she wouldn’t have to get the coach with the people who had been threatening her. Then, having driven down to Glastonbury with her friend Tom, they sent a security van to meet her in the car park and usher her through the security gates as quickly as possible.
“At this point my anxiety was through the roof, I was looking over my shoulder frightened of catching glimpse of the perpetrator and their friends,” Whitehurst wrote.
“Marianna noticed my worry, took my hand and walked us up to the security guard at the front of the queue. They had a quick chat and he ushered us right through, Marianna making sure she didn’t let go of me the whole time.”
The organisers had also arranged for Whitehurst to be given a letter stating that “the bearer of the letter must have her requests for her safety taken seriously and she must be taken to safety immediately”. It came complete with a list of numbers and two hospitality wrist bands, for herself and Tom, to ensure they had access to quieter bars and spaces in case she felt scared or overwhelmed.
The organisers had even reserved them a camping spot far away from where she knew her other “friends” would be.
Writing about her experience of the week, Whitehurst said, “the festival was amazing”.
“Yeah, there were places I didn’t feel comfortable going (I knew where they were camped) and favourite bands I opted out of seeing in smaller tents (I knew they’d be there) but I can thankfully say I never had to use the letter,” she wrote.
“I made some new great friends, I saw some incredible acts, my tan lines are ridiculous, my hangovers were unreal and at the end of it all, i didn’t feel like a victim, I felt like someone who had finally been to Glastonbury.”
And she went on to give thanks to the people who made the experience possible, while also sharing an important thought on the kindness of others – which is something that we are all surely guilty of overlooking.
“On a deeper level, I am writing this to say that people really care. Sometimes when you lose all hope, the unbelievable and altruistic kindness of strangers can help give you the strength to keep fighting,” she said. “I have met some really awful humans in my life, who have killed my spirit and, in all honesty, made me feel life wasn’t worth living anymore. To me it wasn’t just a festival, it was genuinely restoring my faith in people again. People that really f**king care.
“So, Adrian, Marianna, Kerry and the rest of the team, I hope you see this. If you don’t, I hope you know that you made a difference, and you made me feel like a survivor again.”
You can read Laura’s blog post in full here